5 Paralyzing Fears You Have to Ignore (If You Want to Expand Your Comfort Zone)

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5 Paralyzing Fears You Have to Ignore (If You Want to Expand Your Comfort Zone)

It’s been a week since I came out to the Philippines.

I freaking love everything about this place. The people are amazing, and I love the work I do.

Yet, I almost didn’t go.

It’s pretty easy to see why not when I lay it out.

First, I had to drop out of college in the middle of a semester. After that, I had to convince my traditional Asian family that I wasn’t crazy.

That wasn’t easy considering the fact they have no idea what I do. They also believe college is the only path to success and that moving outside of the United States is a death wish.

Then I had to say goodbye to all of my friends and family for half a year. Getting on the plane was pretty surreal too since I’ve never been outside of the United States before.

I also had to say goodbye to two internships I’ve been working with since February. Plus, I have this website to worry about, so I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to balance everything.

This is a lot to process as a 19-year old.

It’s a good thing that I’m not superstitious or maybe I would have more excuses.

Get this, two days after I told my family I’m moving to Davao, there was a bombing in the city. So of course, Googling “Davao” popped up news articles about the bombing (and Death Squads!)

I got this nasty cough two weeks before my flight that has been bothering me for a full month now. Then there was a terrifying shooting at Los Angeles’ International Airport the day of my flight. Like a grim welcome party, there was a mini-earthquake my first night in the Philippines.

And now? Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the entire country, reported to be the biggest typhoon in recorded history to ever make landfall.

I could have convinced myself these were signs from a higher being telling me that it’s okay to be afraid and run away. Oh, I don’t need to go way outside of my comfort zone! The universe clearly doesn’t want me to…

But of course, I went. I’m here and still a bit scared of what I’ve done, yet I don’t regret it one bit.

Davao, Philippines

How could I with an office like this?

Excuses are easy to come by because we can take anything as a sign when we’re afraid of stepping outside our comfort zone. Excuses prevent you from getting what you want. Excuses keep you stagnant.

Aside from superstition, there is self-doubt, fear of the unknown, and lack of self-confidence. All these things make you more likely to find excuses.

If you want to expand your comfort zone, you need to stop asking yourself things like…

1. What could I be doing instead?

In economics, they call this “opportunity cost.” It’s like taking a left but spending all day wondering what could have been if you went right.

There’s no use driving yourself crazy wondering “what if?” It’s out of your control. You no longer have influence over the outcome.

Stoics separated everything into two categories, things in your control and things completely outside of your control. Guess what they do with the latter? They acknowledge their powerlessness and focus on what matters, the things they can control.

How much time do you spend worrying about things outside of your control? Events that you have no influence on are a waste of time thinking about.

2. How do I know things will go well?

You don’t. You never will.

Wayne Gretzsky said it best, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

The only way to see what will happen is to dive in with both feet and work your ass off.

No matter how bad you want something it won’t always turn out exactly the way you expected, so why not increase the odds by busting your ass?

A lot of it is about maintaining a healthy level of realistic expectations. Set it too high and you’re going to be disappointed regardless of the outcome.

On the other hand, you don’t want to psych yourself out by having the lowest expectations ever. You’ll only end up as a pessimist who hates the world.

Set your expectations to a certain level of realism that won’t leave you unmotivated.

3. What if I lose my motivation halfway through the race?

When I first started this blog I was scared to death that I’d drop it on its head after pouring hours and hours of pure dedication into it. I’m still worried about that sometimes.

People like me are dabblers. We love the learning process and starting new things, but we often lack the long-term commitment.

There’s no cure for this. Passion and the like are difficult to find. Like number two, you’ll never know what happens, so just dive right the hell in. Think too much and you’ll paralyze yourself into a life of inaction.

Who knows if everything I’m doing now will keep me happy 10 years in the future? I think it will, but I know there’s no guarantee.

Enjoy the moment and try to look into the future if you can. If not, don’t sweat it. Enjoy life while you can instead of trying to predict the future and plan for every turn.

4. What if I’m not as talented as others think?

This is called the impostor syndrome. Brilliant entrepreneurs with a great track record often feel like they’re frauds just waiting for the world to find out.

Inc Magazine notes that, “two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds,” while other studies, “found that 70 percent of all people feel like fakes at one time or another.”

It’s normal. You probably are better than you give yourself credit for.

I feel like an impostor every other week. Should I be out here in the Philippines? Am I really going to help my company hit $1 million/year in revenue? I’m just a kid!

But damn it, I have to remind myself that I have talents that many others don’t. I’m going to work my ass off regardless of what my mind feeds me.

5. What if all the signs tell me I shouldn’t do this?

Warning SignYou already know I’m not a superstitious guy. Shooting, super typhoon, and a bunch of other hints from the universe warning me and whatnot, I don’t care.

Don’t look for any excuse to run away. Signs or not, get out there and do interesting things. Life is so much better outside of your comfort zone.

Opportunities can be too damn good to pass up, so don’t make excuses and don’t let fear let you settle for mediocrity.

Photo Credits: Nina Stossinger – Flickr and epSos.de

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway. After landing his dream job with Empire Flippers he dropped out of school and moved to Davao, Philippines to work closely with the company's founders. Don't worry, he still publishes every Monday and hasn't missed a single week since starting this site in January 2013.

Latest posts by Vincent Nguyen (see all)

32 responses to 5 Paralyzing Fears You Have to Ignore (If You Want to Expand Your Comfort Zone)

  1. Vincent,

    I had to chuckle a little bit, I am 38 and I think my own parents would freak if I told them I was moving somewhere with death squads and typhoon’s.

    Not that I would let that stop me if I felt it was right.

    It is a brave thing to face so many fears and uncertainties at a such a young age. You are a hell of a lot more mature than I was at 19.

    Love the 5 fears you broke down. They are so universal and so limiting. Hopefully your adventure will be a huge success. (I am sure it will) But regardless, when you take a chance, roll the dice and take action, even if smashing success does not happen, it is always a chance for growth and life lessons.

    Good luck to you!

    Steve

  2. Hey good to see you haven’t been blown all the way back to the States. Are you in and around the destruction or have you managed to avoid the carnage?

    As for the article, I like the idea about imposter syndrome. I didn’t realise it until a few years ago but even the very best athletes and musicians are terrified before a big performance or match. I guess it’s just natural. Self doubt will always creep in but I suppose it’s how you deal with it that determines how far you go..

    • Avoided it completely. My city had sunny weather during the typhoon’s peak, so that’s interesting. Difficult to hear about how bad further up North has it though. A lot of destruction there.

  3. It’s great you made the leap. Fear is scariest when we don’t confront it. When you go into it, it’s rarely as bad as you thought it would be.

    Just one last thing. I need to schedule a meeting at your “office.” It’s very important that I swim in th….uh….discuss pertinent social media metrics with you.

  4. Dang Vincent, you know how to throw a going away party. Since you pushed through and made it to your destination after all of those events outside of your control, no need to fear the small stuff.

  5. Hey,
    Glad to hear you’re alive and (very) well – I was a bit worried when I heard the news.
    That “70% of people feel like frauds” was reassuring, at my first IRL networking event last week, I honestly felt like someone was going to jump out of the crowd and yell “she’s not a lifestyle coach, she’s just a waitress!” – Thankfully nobody did, and people loved hearing about the work that I do with clients :)
    You’ve inspired me to go after an internship of my own, keep rocking Vincent! :)

  6. Vincent,

    Reading this made me think of the time I first went out of the country. I was a little older than you at the time and I decided I was going to go to Europe even if I had to go alone. I joined a tour group but knew no one. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done and I had so many doubts, even during the trip. A couple of times I came close to just leaving and going back home, but I stayed. The experience of taking that trip and taking that chance has changed me in more ways than I could’ve imagined when I planned it. I hope that the journey you’re on right now will only be a positive one for you. I could’ve let fear get the best of me and I would’ve missed on a life-changing experience. Like you say, life is much better outside of our comfort zone. Great post!

    Melissa

    • Hell yeah! I’m glad you decided to go and rough it out regardless of what your body was telling you. Imagine if you backed down. Who would you be today if not for what you saw and did in Europe?

  7. Hi Vincent,
    I’m new to your site. I found that #4 really resonates with me, and I think this is an insecurity that many entrepreneurs sweep under the rug. At 20 years old, I am working on building a blog on holistic health, wellness, and metaphysics. I sometimes fear that because of my age and (perceived lack of experience), that I my work won’t be taken seriously.

    • Welcome to my site, Jasmine!

      I’m going through #4 like crazy right now. I’m afraid I won’t live up to everyone’s insane expectations of me and sometimes I wonder if they’re wrong to hold me up in such high regards. I’ll be honest and say that it makes my heart beat faster when I think about letting everyone down.

      Screw what people think. Establish yourself as an expert by writing some kickass content on your own blog and guest post for other major blogs in your niche. When they see your name everywhere they can’t help but think you’re an expert.

      I’m just a 19 year old kid and I’m sure people roll their eyes at the thought of someone so young writing life advice. Yet… :)

  8. Great to hear you’re safe buddy. Lots of crazy shit going down :)

    I definitely can attest to the point about dabbling. I’ve done this so many times in my life and nearly did it the other week with PD. Luckily I figured out what was wrong within my business and fixed it.

    I definitely resonate with the feeling of being a fraud as well. It’s not an every day thing, but it definitely happens. Especially because I charge a pretty penny for my coaching. But at the end of the day, I know my shit is worth it.

    Enjoy the sunshine brother!

  9. I’m glad you are okay, Vincent…been thinking of you since I heard about the storm. You’ll be glad you took this risk…best of luck!

  10. Wow – good for you!! So unconventional to so many people, but you can’t go wrong following your dreams and what you think is where you are supposed to be.

  11. Wow Vincent that is a big decision. You are right, you need to take that step forward in order to achieve your dreams.

    I have been to the Philippines and it is a beautiful country. I am glad you like the new place.

  12. Hi Vincent. New reader here and absolutely love your blog. I hope you’re having a great time in the Philippines. I’ve been there before, there’s an island off the country called Boracay and it is absolutely amazing. If you happen to go there, make sure you try cliff diving. It’s scary but I’m sure you’ll kill it considering how brave you are to make a move. :)

    I agree with all the points above and I know how it feels being scared of uncertainty. But if you’re doing something with your whole heart it won’t be too bad even if you had it all wrong. Looking forward to more posts from you.

  13. Vincent, can you please write an article about fear from losing parents? As my always fear wasn’t facing new challenges,but it’s living faraway in other country far from my parents, and always thinking what if one of them die when am just far and couldn’t spend time with them.
    Please try your best
    thank you

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